Background: Females generally perform better than males on some measures of social processing (e.g. Empathizing), while males typically perform better than females on some measures of non-social processing (e.g. Systemizing). Extremes of these sex-typical cognitive profiles are associated with the development and maintenance of certain psychiatric disorders. For example, the autism-psychosis model predicts psychosis spectrum conditions can be characterized as a cognitive pattern of very poor Systemizing alongside superior Empathizing ability (autism demonstrating the diametrically opposing cognitive profile). However, little experimental research has been carried out to date testing the cognitive profile associated with psychosis.
Methods: The present study used a large non-clinical sample to investigate the relationship between a “jumping to conclusions” (JTC) reasoning bias commonly seen in patients with delusions and measures of Empathizing and Systemizing.
Results: Those showing a JTC bias demonstrated greater Empathizing and reduced Systemizing compared to a non-JTC group, irrespective of biological sex. Sex differences were identified in Empathizing and Systemizing but not the JTC.
Conclusions: These results show a cognitive pattern consistent with predictions from the autism-psychosis model. In a non-clinical population, a reasoning bias associated with delusions is associated with an Emphasizing/Systemizing profile opposite to that characteristic of autism.